Kefir, if you’re not familiar with it, is kind of like a pouring yoghurt. It’s packed full of healthy live bacteria (called probiotics). Unlike some of the small bottles of ‘probiotic drinks’ you can buy in supermarkets, it isn’t packed full of added sugars and flavourings. You can use it whenever you might use ordinary yoghurt. I like it added to smoothies and overnight oats.
Maybe you fancy a go at making your own. However, if (like me) you find the idea of growing bacteria at home then feeding it to your family a little daunting, you probably want a step by step guide. A guide with lots of photos so you know what is OK? Read on – I’ve done that for you!
Why make your own kefir? If you are looking to include probiotics in your diet then kefir is a pretty good place to start. The advantage of kefir over probiotic foods like kimchi and sauerkraut is the variety of strains of different bacteria. Some studies have found as many as 28 different strains of bacteria and yeast in kefir grains. You could just buy kefir from the supermarket but it’s relatively expensive and lots of them have been pasteurised before adding bacteria cultures back in. That means you’re missing some of the benefits and paying more for the privilege.
Making kefir is pretty straightforward but there are some rules:
OK, so two rules. Pretty simple so far.
There’s also some equipment (you probably have most of this already).
Next you need a plastic sieve. The fancy jar also has a built in strainer but honestly my £2 sieve from the local supermarket is quicker and less messy.
Finally you need an airtight container to store your kefir in until you’re ready to use it.
When your grains first arrive you will feel like Jack (from Jack and the Beanstalk)’s Mum when Jack arrives home and he proudly shows her the magic beans he traded their cow for. You will get what looks like about a teaspoon of milk with not much to look at by way of grains. Provided you bought your grains from a company with a few decent reviews this is nothing to worry about – the grains just need to wake up and grow.
Once the kefir is ready you will see that the milk starts to separate out with areas of clear liquid. If I’m not ready for it at this point I pop it in the fridge for a few days to slow the process. The one in this photo had been in the fridge for about three days.
Give your jar (that you have been growing your culture in) a good clean and pop the grains back in the bottom. Top up with fresh milk and repeat process for next batch.
Meanwhile, transfer the kefir liquid to your airtight container until you are ready to use it. I find it keeps quite happily for a week in the fridge.
If you are dairy free I am told that the grains work well with coconut milk. I’m not sure whether you benefit from the same number of strains of bacteria. If you try other milks let me know how you get on.
I'm Kim Adams, founder of SAVI Nutrition. A Nutritional Therapist who is passionate about healthy, tasty food. Here I share with you my thoughts on food and health alongside a few of my favourite recipes.